Yukon RCMP ‘a little surprised’ by new government funds
The Yukon RCMP chief says he is both pleased and surprised by the hefty budget increase for the police service included in this year’s territorial budget.
The Yukon budget, presented earlier this month, includes an additional $3.5 million per year in base funding for police. That’s almost as much replenishment in one year as the government gave the force several years earlier.
“Honestly, I have to say I’m actually a little surprised, you know, at a time when there’s still a lot of background noise [defunding] of the police and the diversion of resources from the police,” said Yukon Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard.
“I am very pleased to report that this administration has had the courage to see where the needs lie in a growing Yukon and provide appropriate policing for them.”
Some of the funding will go toward 7.5 new full-time jobs, as well as things like lab costs and upgrading some equipment. Sheppard said some of the new funding will simply cover the rising costs of policing due to inflation.
“We certainly felt that pressure,” Sheppard said. “Policing is an expensive business to keep going.”
Sheppard said the police service will strengthen its Crime Reduction Unit to target drug trafficking, among other things. He said that “several” organized crime groups operate in the Yukon and are involved in drug trafficking.
“The Crime Reduction Unit targets the middle-level drug trade and productive base of offenders that fuel a lot of crime in the Yukon,” he said.
“You talk to people in the Yukon and they’ll tell you that the level of violence, the level of crime feels a little bit more intense than it was 10 or 15 years ago. So, are these resources needed? Absolutely. “
“Hold my nose and vote yes,” says the NDP leader
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the official leader of the opposition, Currie Dixon, said he was also pleased to see more resources for RCMP, especially if that meant more officers on the front lines.
“We’ve been pushing for an increase in RCMP funding for some time, going back the past several years,” Dixon said.
“This is sorely needed. Unfortunately, crime in the Yukon has increased dramatically.”
NDP leader Kate White, however, was less enthusiastic. Her party’s 2021 campaign platform targeted police with a promise to “redistribute funds to community partners” for things like mental health and addiction.
“In listening to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) people, it is imperative that Yukoners understand that policing has not been fair or effective for all Yukoners, and in many cases has been damaging to communities,” it said it on this platform.
Still, White said her party was committed to supporting the budget under its Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) with the Liberal government.
“There are a lot of really good things about this trust and supply agreement that are worth holding my nose and voting yes,” she said.
“We’re, you know, committed to making women’s organizations get more funding…we’re committed to making other organizations get more funding. You know, it’s complicated math and not a simple answer.”